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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with some more from the third installment in my Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl. Some background: Jack Hawthorne is a ex-SEAL and wolf shifter who shows up in Esposito County looking for work at his former commanding officer’s ski lodge. He never expects to find his mate there as well — except that Kate Chandler is a cougar shifter, can’t smell due to a childhood accident (and thus can’t recognize Jack as her mate), and is the daughter of Jack’s former commander. As I like to say, hijinks ensue!

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Jack shook the worst of the snow from his parka, stamping his boots to dislodge more of the cold white stuff on the back porch before closing the door. “Getting a little deep out there,” he said laconically.

Kate smirked. “You think this is deep, you should be here during one of our blizzards.” She leaned against the mud room door frame, trying not to ogle as the hunky wolf shifter peeled off more of his outer layers. “You’d have a problem getting through the snowfall.”

He grinned as he hung up parka, hat, and scarf. “You’d be surprised. We get bad winters in North Carolina, too. I’m pretty good at dealing with snow.”

She wondered how he was going to deal with the news that her father would be staying in town overnight. It left them alone together in the house, with a nice little snowstorm blowing outside, and if that wasn’t a recipe for falling into bed and fucking their brains out she didn’t know what was–

Her next thought fled as Jack finished stripping down to a thermal T that outlined his broad shoulders and rock-hard pecs. His battered old jeans fit like they had been tailored for him, and she couldn’t help staring at the large package under the fly. Oh, yum.

Even with him fresh from outside, the heat from the big wolf shifter’s body drifted across the space between them, warming her skin. What would it be like if she moved closer, put her arm around his neck? Would he take it as the invitation it was, or would he back off on orders from her father?

I am an adult. I make the decisions in my life, dammit. And if I want to go to bed with Jack, I will.

She allowed herself a wry smile. Assuming he wants to, of course. But she was ninety-nine percent sure that he would be more than happy to visit her bedroom and relieve the growing desire that had been hitting her with increasing frequency since the day he showed up.

Use your words, Chandler. “So,” she said after clearing her throat, “Dad’s decided to stay in town and ride out the storm there, which means we’re on our own tonight. What do you want to do?”

He glanced down at her, and she was sure she saw a flicker of desire in those blue depths. And then he smiled. “Can we watch a movie?”

She wanted to growl in frustration. “Seriously?”

“Yeah. I like movies. Haven’t been able to see a lot of them recently.” He shrugged. “But if you don’t want to, that’s okay.”

Her cougar yowled in protest. Bed! Now! Before the Alpha gets back!

She pushed it back, thinking. The wall of the Chandler great room was one huge DVD collection, and that didn’t include all the films they had in streaming format. If she played her cards right, snuggling up on the couch with Jack while they watched something could definitely turn into something more. “What kinds of movies do you like?”

He considered it. “Believe it or not, I’m not big on action movies,” he admitted. “I like comedies, SF, and fantasy, given my choice.”

Fantasy. A brilliant idea popped into her head. “We have the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Plus I have popcorn. We could make it a marathon.”

He grinned, teeth white against the tan of his skin. “Ma’am, you had me at popcorn.”

****

Jack tossed a buttery popcorn kernel into his mouth as Bernard Hill magically changed from an aged husk back into a vigorous Theoden on the Chandler’s huge flatscreen TV. “I love this part. I’m a total sucker for a redemption story.”

Kate sat cross-legged on the couch next to him. In a soft moss sweater and brown leggings, she looked like a gorgeous little forest sprite, and keeping his hands off her was becoming more and more a test of willpower. “Yeah,” she agreed. “Wormtongue was a sleazy bastard. And I had such a crush on Theoden when the movie first came out.”

That surprised him. “Really? You must’ve been a kid at the time.”

“Mm, no. I was fourteen. Just the right time for puberty to strike with a vengeance.” She stole a handful of popcorn from the large bowl between then. “All my friends were crazy about Viggo or one of the hobbits, but I thought Theoden was seriously sexy. Must have been all that angst and leather armor.”

“I guess.” A gleam of hope flickered to life. She liked brave, strong leaders who weren’t perfect. And you’re a packless Alpha. Lucky you, you were pretty much made for her.

He ignored the snarky voice. “Hey, don’t eat all my popcorn,” he said, grabbing a handful for himself.

“That’s our popcorn, specialist, and I can always make some more,” she teased, pushing his hand aside with her own. The contact was platonic, but it still sent warmth rushing over Jack’s skin and nerves. He was grateful for the throw pillow he’d casually arranged over his crotch, camouflaging the semi he’d been sporting on and off since Kate had sat down next to him. Her proximity and the heat coming from the fireplace filled the air with her scent, locking onto every pheromone receptor he had and urging him to claim her. Watching an extended cut of the Rings trilogy with her sitting next to him had somehow become a strangely enjoyable form of torture.

As long as he didn’t have to stand up at any point. “So Viggo didn’t do it for you?” he added.

She shrugged. “He’s handsome. But he’s not my type.”

The words left his mouth before he could stop them: “What is your type?”

He winced, worried that he’d overstepped his bounds. But Kate smiled. “Someone who’s capable, confident, but not a macho Alphahole. A little vulnerability is nice. He doesn’t always have to be the strong one. I like to be leaned on once in a while, as long as I know I can do the same thing when I need help. And he has to have a good sense of humor.”

Jack ignored the sudden cascade of dirty limericks and jokes tumbling through his head. “Okay,” he said, readjusting his pillow. “In that case, I guess Aragorn is a little humorless.”

“Exactly. He’s so damn driven. But you can imagine Theoden having a beer and relaxing with some shield maidens once all the fighting was done. It also helps that I saw the outtake where Viggo cracked Bernard up by reminding him about being turned into a LOTR action figure.” She dropped her voice into an accented growl. “‘They’ll make ten thousand at least, for children to play stupid games with.’”

Jack grinned. “Now that has to be weird, knowing that someone made you into a doll.”

“Right? I mean, think of the potential for voodoo misuse.”

They both laughed at that before settling back, watching as the Fellowship persuaded Theoden and the rest of the Rohirrim to help out Gondor. But Jack couldn’t help mulling over what Kate had said. Since the moment he’d learned that she couldn’t smell him as her mate, he’d been worried that there was no way he could attract her, especially with his packless status. But it seemed that the sexy cougar shifter was far more open minded than he’d thought. And she likes capable, confident men. If that’s not a SEAL, I don’t know what is.

He reached for more popcorn and once again met her hand doing the same thing. This time the contact send a burst of heat through him, raw and hungry for more contact with his gorgeous little cougar. Underneath the throw pillow his cock surged up, tightening painfully against his jeans.

Kate left her hand touching his over the nubbly kernels. “Maybe we should talk about the elephant in the room?” she said slowly.

He took in a breath and wanted to groan at the deliciousness of her scent. “Yeah, maybe we should.”


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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m continuing on from my most recent snippet of Shifter Woods: Snarl. When we last saw Jack and Kate, he’d just informed her that any shifter at Cougar Ridge Ski Lodge would be able to smell the fact that she’d just enjoyed a solo morning orgasm. After that, things get—complicated. Yeah, let’s say complicated.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Jack winced as Kate jerked back in her chair, green eyes wide with shock. He hadn’t meant to be so blunt, but the heady scent of her satisfied desire hung in the air like a shimmering cloud of delicious, cock-hardening perfume. He wasn’t going to be able to stand up for a few minutes as it was, and the only thing stopping him from flipping over the table, grabbing her and taking her back to bed was the knowledge that Commander Chandler would undoubtedly boot him from the lodge for that. But damn, it would be worth it.

“You—you can smell that?” she stammered.

Christ, could he. “Yeah. And so can every other shifter in the lodge. Just wash up again, maybe get some fresh underwear.”

Biting her lip, she dropped the fork on her unfinished omelet and stood up, hurrying past him. A wave of guilt stung him and he grabbed her wrist. “Wait.”

She jerked free, not looking at him. “What?”

“I’m—I’m sorry. I just—” Don’t want you going out there smelling so goddamn good. It was bad enough watching the male cougars at the lodge stare after her like she was the hottest thing on the mountain. Which, of course, she was, but they weren’t supposed to look at her like that. His wolf howled in agreement. If she went out there smelling like sex in the bargain, one of them was bound to make a move, manager or not, and then he’d have to act. “I didn’t want you to be embarrassed,” he finished.

“Yeah, little late for that.” She crossed her arms defensively over her chest. All that did was plump up her breasts under the pretty sweater she was wearing, making his cock throb harder. “I’m not responsible for what happens in my dreams, okay?”

She still wouldn’t look at him, blooms of color tinting those sharp cheekbones and making her even more appetizing. A tantalizing thought occurred to him then—was I in her dream? Did her subconscious recognize him as her mate? It would only be fair, seeing as she was starring in all of his wet dreams this last week.

But there was a hot scent of rising anger under the humiliation, and pissing her off at this stage wasn’t smart. “I know, and I’m sorry for being so blunt. It’s like—telling you that you have a piece of spinach in your teeth.” He shrugged, wishing he was better with words. “You could be a little bit embarrassed in front of me, or really embarrassed in front of every shifter at the lodge. Including your dad.”

Her lips pursed at that. Finally, reluctantly, she nodded. “I see your point. In that case, thank you.”

If he hadn’t been able to tell from her scent, the terse tone would have told him she was still embarrassed. He searched for something reassuring to say when she added, “Does it smell … bad?”

There was no way she could ever smell bad to him, especially not at the moment. If he got any harder he’d rip through his damn jeans. “No,” he said roughly. “No, it smells … really good.”

“Even to you?”

Celadon eyes filled with another question, one that that caused his wolf to howl again, urging him to claim his female. It took every ounce of self-control to remain seated when his entire body ached with the need to touch her, pull her down on his lap and prove how much he wanted her. “Especially to me,” he breathed.

She swallowed hard at that. “I … I’d better go.” Ducking her head, she didn’t quite run out of the kitchen, but it was close.

Alone, Jack gazed at the remnants of his breakfast, then pushed the plate away. This couldn’t go on. He had to talk to Chandler. And then he had to figure out how to tell Kate the truth.


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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week is another teaser from the third book in my Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl. Kate’s becoming more and more attracted to this lone wolf shifter her dad invited to live with them — but will she ever figure out why? Hmm…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Over the next week the Chandler household slowly shifted to absorb its newest member into the daily routine. Kate learned that Jack woke up earlier than she did, which made sharing the hallway bathroom easier. He even cleaned up after himself, wiping down the shower and sink and depositing the damp towels in the bathroom hamper, which constituted a genuine miracle in her opinion. And while they had an automatic coffee maker, Jack had unilaterally taken on the role of breakfast chef and made sure that they started the day off with omelets, bacon and eggs, or other protein-dense meals.

Judging by what she’d heard from Wayne and Patty, the wolf shifter was fitting in well with the maintenance crew at the lodge, too. He willingly took on the messier jobs, picking up garbage along the runs and unblocking clogged sinks and toilets without a complaint. He also handled cleanup tasks on the public side of things, and she’d had to push her cougar down firmly a few times when she caught some of the female guests flirting with him. He’s a free agent. He can do what he likes.

But he never took a single human female up on an offer. Instead, he showed up for dinner every night and handled the dishwashing and kitchen cleaning afterwards. In the back of her mind, she wondered if he’d left someone back in North Carolina. She couldn’t have been a heart’s mate, otherwise she would have followed him. A bitter memory bubbled up at that, and she squelched it. Or he—maybe Jack’s gay? But I haven’t seen him checking out any of the guys, either.

All she knew was that he wasn’t interested in her. After that first dinner she hadn’t tried to flirt with him again. Being shot down was never fun, and having it happen in her own kitchen sucked donkey balls. Which made it all the more frustrating that Jack still managed to carbonate her hormones, a fact she took pains to hide from her father. Worse, her REM sleep had taken on an erotic life of its own. That morning she’d woken up from a sweetly hot dream of making out with Jack during a spring thunderstorm. The sky flashed and growled through her bedroom window and rain pounded against the glass as they’d sprawled together on her bed, kissing enthusiastically. For some reason her sadistic subconscious had kept both of them fully clothed, but Jack was lying between her legs in the dream and she could feel his thick erection brushing directly over her clit, driving her crazy with need. When the alarm went off and woke her up, she’d been left with no choice but to rub out a mercifully quick orgasm, gasping his name softly as she stroked herself.

After showering and getting dressed, she was sure that all traces of her sexfest had been rinsed down the drain. But Jack’s head came up the moment she sauntered into the kitchen. His nostrils flared as he sniffed, and his pupils dilated before he lowered his head again and focused on his omelet.

She didn’t have a sense of smell, but she damn well knew the signs of desire when she saw them. Well, I’ll be damned. “Hey,” she said, pouring herself a cup of coffee before sitting in front of her own omelet. “Where’s Dad?”

“He went over to the lodge early, said there was some equipment he had to deal with.”

That made sense. It also meant she had Jack all to herself for a few minutes. Might as well make the most of it. “Sleep well?”

Jack coughed a little, clearing his throat. “Um, yeah. You?”

“Oh, yeah.” She decided to poke the wolf a bit. “You ever wake up from a really great dream and you just know it’s going to be a good day?”

Blue eyes came up to meet her gaze, sending a little thrill through her. “Yeah,” he said softly. “As a matter of face, I have.”

Holding his gaze, she sliced off a fragment of omelet and forked it into her mouth. “Well, it’s going to be a really good day,” she said after chewing and swallowing. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, wolf man.

He licked his lips, and she was pretty sure it wasn’t because of the omelet. “Kate?” he said softly.

She leaned a fraction closer. “Yes?”

“You should clean up some more before going outside. Every shifter who comes near you will know you just came.”


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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m doing another sneak peek at the third book in my Esposito Country Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl. I am not making things easy for Jack, but hey, the only easy day for a SEAL is yesterday.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Jack wiped up the last bit of sauce with a scrap of garlic bread and popped it into his mouth, chewing happily. The rich tang of sautéed garlic and onions had combined with the herbal bite of chopped fresh basil, the spice of toasted oregano, and a smooth, meaty tomato sauce into something that was purely amazing. Poured over al dente pasta and with a green salad on the side and a glass of good Merlot in front of him, it was by far the best meal he’d had in some time. “That was absolutely incredible, Kate,” he said after swallowing. “You’re a hell of a good cook.”

Across the table, Chandler was scraping his own plate clean with more garlic bread, having demolished his own pile of pasta and sauce with gusto. “Damn right she is,” he said with obvious pride. “And she makes a mean chicken parmesan, too.”

“Gotta keep you guys fed and functional,” Kate said, giving her father a wink as she twirled up the last of her own spaghetti around her fork. “And since I cooked, you two can clean up.”

Chandler sighed, but nodded. “Fair’s fair.”

Jack sat back, content. The dinnertime conversation had been easy enough, with Chandler sounding him out on how his first day had gone and Kate praising his assessment skills. The older male’s eyes had narrowed when he heard about the asshole guest in the bar. “He didn’t touch you, did he?”

A corner of her mouth curled. “He tried. Nothing I haven’t handled before.” Her smile widened in Jack’s direction. “But Jack definitely made it easier for me.”

Chandler gave him an approving look. “Well, all right. But next time you call security if some jackass tries something.”

“Sir, yes sir.” Her tone was gently mocking, but Jack thought he heard an edge under it. He hoped it was just the natural tension between a father’s protective instincts and a daughter’s urge to be independent. And if it isn’t, who do you side with? Your former commander, or your future mate?

That was a problem for another time. “Everyone done?” he asked.

Both Chandlers nodded. He got up, taking their plates and silverware and stacking them on his own. “I’ll get these in the kitchen.”

The surprised look on Kate’s face suggested that clearing the table wasn’t part of what her father considered “cleaning up.” He flashed a grin at her as he scooped up his former commander’s silverware and added them to the small pile of cutlery on the topmost plate. “Dishwasher, right?”

She grinned back. “I like him, Dad. Can we keep him?”

Chandler’s long-suffering eyeroll required Jack to swallow a chuckle as he carried the plates into the homey kitchen, opening the dishwasher he’d spotted during his reconnoiter after work and slotting things into their respective racks. Another trip brought in the wine glasses and salad bowls. He was studying the leftover sauce in its pot on the stove and wondering where the storage containers were when he smelled her standing behind him.

Turning, he saw her with hands on her hips, another of those feline grins lighting up her face. “You know, you don’t have to do everything yourself,” she chided. “Dad’s perfectly capable of putting stuff in the dishwasher.”

He shrugged, wondering what she would do if he admitted his real reason for being helpful—the hope that he’d get her alone for a few minutes. “Just trying to pull my weight.”

“Yeah, I figured.” She stepped closer, stopping when she was only a few inches away. “Look, I don’t know your back story, and you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. But this isn’t Coronado. You don’t have to prove anything here.”

The mention of the Navy base made his gut contract a little with longing. “That’s not how SEALs work,” he said, trying to keep his tone gentle. “We keep going, no matter what. I’d think you’d know that by now.”

“Yeah, I guess I do.” She blew out a soft breath, and he couldn’t stop himself from inhaling. That was a mistake. Even with the overtones of garlic, onion, and wine, her essence was a sweetly golden beacon that reached into his soul and made his wolf howl in primal longing. Our mate. Ours.

And she was. His hands ached with the need to touch her, kiss her, pull her close and let her scent drench his skin. Her sweet round tits would feel amazing against his chest, and his rapidly hardening dick wanted to press against her belly, ride the rising tide of their paired desire—

No. I promised Chandler. She’s off limits.

The thought of the older male learning that he’d broken his vow had the same effect as diving into an ice cold breaker. His wolf growled this time, furious at his refusal. Our mate!

And she can’t smell that, plus I made a damn promise. So back the fuck off, furbag.

His wolf retreated, still growling. He stepped back as well, bumping into the stove. “There’s a lot of sauce left over,” he said, keeping his tone brisk. “Want me to freeze it?”

A flicker of disappointment flashed in her eyes. “Yeah. Use the pint containers in the cabinet left of the sink.”

“Got it.” He turned, aware that she was standing there watching him. You know the drill. It’s all mind over matter — if I don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Except that he did mind, dammit. And he had no idea how to fix it.


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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week we’re cutting away to my shifter romance Shifter Woods: Snarl and picking up where I’d left off. Jack, a former SEAL and Alpha wolf shifter, has discovered that the cougar shifter daughter of his former commander is his mate — but she can’t smell due to an accident and has no idea that they’re meant to be together. He’s just dissuaded a horny customer of the Cougar Ridge Ski Resort from harassing her, and Kate is both appreciative and irritated. Let’s see which emotion wins out.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A flicker of pleasure lit Kate’s belly at Jack’s behavior. She wasn’t looking forward to having to put the guest on the floor, but it wouldn’t be the first time she’d had to physically discourage a horny human male.

And then Jack made it unnecessary. The independent side of her bristled at him stepping in, but something very basic and female appreciated both the effort and his verbal support of her. “Let go of the gentleman, Mr. Hawthorne. I have this,” she said crisply.

Jack let go of the guest immediately. “Yes, ma’am.”

As expected, the human straightened up and went directly into aggression mode. “Who the fuck do you think you are,” he yelled at Jack. “I’m gonna sue you for assault.”

“No, you’re not.” Kate stepped between them, giving the guest a flat, feline smile. “Because if you do, I’ll countersue for harassment, which our cameras captured,” she nodded at the unobtrusive camera mount in the ceiling. The man looked up at it and blanched. “And then I’ll make sure you’re barred from every ski resort in New Mexico. And believe me, I can.” She allowed her smile to widen. “So I suggest you go upstairs, get packed, and leave. We’ll reimburse you for the day’s room rental, of course.”

The human swallowed audibly, attention flickering between her and Jack. She could feel the wolf shifter standing just behind her, menace radiating over her shoulder. “Fine. Didn’t want to stay here, anyway,” he muttered, shuffling around them and through the bar’s double doors.

Kate let out a breath, then turned to Jack. “Thank you for that, but it wasn’t necessary.”

Unexpectedly he smiled at her. The expression lit his eyes, making them sparkle, and she couldn’t stop herself from smiling back. “I know, and I’m sorry if I overstepped,” he said, his voice a low rumble. “But you applying a beat down would’ve hit him on his male bump, and he would have sued just to soothe his ego. This way, he gets to think he was smart to leave, and you don’t have to worry about nuisance lawsuits.”

She felt a moment of surprise at the assessment, then wanted to laugh. Why the hell are you surprised? He’s a SEAL — threat assessment is what they’re good at. “I … see. Well, anything that makes my life easier is always appreciated.”

His smile warmed a few degrees. “I live to serve.”

And the flutter low in her belly was back. She couldn’t help imagining him naked and in her bed, all furry and hard and willing to serve— Jesus Haploid Christ, Chandler, get your mind out of the gutter. “Are you off now?”

“According to Wayne.” He looked abashed. “I came up here to drop off the stuff I found on the trails. I offered to go back and keep working, but—”

She wanted to smack herself. Every SEAL she’d ever met had insane levels of endurance when it came to physical labor, and clearly Hawthorne wanted to work. “That wasn’t a criticism,” she said quickly. “If you were heading back to the house, I was going to ask you to take out the sausage meat out of the freezer and let it thaw. I forgot to do it before I left this morning.”

“Oh. Yeah, I can do that.” He shoved his hands in his parka’s pockets. “Do you want me to do anything else?”

The need beneath the question, the drive to be active and useful, was something she understood perfectly. “We’ve got some wood behind the house that need splitting. Dad keeps meaning to get to it, but he’s been swamped these last few weeks. If you could get those chopped for the fireplace—”

His smile was back. “Be happy to. Where do you keep your ax?”

“In the shed behind the house. There’s a chainsaw there, too, if you want to cut the logs up for easier chopping.”

He snorted. “Where’s the fun in that?”

Kate shook her head. Yeah, he’s a SEAL. “You got your orders, specialist,” she said, allowing a hint of playfulness into her tone.

“Yes, ma’am.” Another arm twitch of a smothered salute and he headed off. She watched him go, wishing that his parka didn’t get in the way of watching what she suspected was a truly magnificent ass.


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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m continuing on with a snippet from my paranormal romance Shifter Woods: Snarl. In this section, former SEAL and packless wolf shifter Jack Hawthorne has just started working at Cougar Ridge Ski Resort and is trying to adjust to life as a maintenance worker — oh, and he also has to figure out how to convince gorgeous cougar shifter Kate Chandler that she’s his mate. No pressure.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Jack slowed the snowmobile, leaning over to snag a pair of polarized goggles off the disturbed snow. Reaching behind to flip open the small bin attached to the back of the vehicle, he added the goggles to his collection of hats, gloves, sunglasses, and other lost apparel. Actual garbage such as waxed cups, napkins, and other detritus from the outdoor snack bar went into a separate, larger container behind the Lost and Found bin. The level of the crap in the garbage bin was depressingly high.

Jesus, humans are slobs. He revved the throttle and kicked the snowmobile back into gear, continuing his trash patrol along the sides of the ski run. Do they think cleaning fairies pick up after them or something? A sudden image of the burlier members of the maintenance crew in sparkly tutus came to him, each shifter gravely waving wands at dropped paper plates while intoning Potteresque cleaning spells.

Despite his disgust at the slovenly habits of the resort customers, his first day had gone well enough. The parka Kate had washed and dried for him, plus a layer of long johns under his jeans and thick wool socks in his boots kept the worst of the mountain chill off his body. The only part that really ached was his face. He could feel traces of windburn around the edges of his goggles and over the scarf (also provided by Kate) that protected his mouth. Compared to SEAL training, though, a little windburn was a walk in the park.

He completed his ascent to the top of the crest, slowing to a crawl and guiding his machine away from the resort’s public areas to the maintenance garage at the back of the lodge. A tall, shaggy cougar shifter named Wayne who had been introduced as the head of maintenance looked up from tinkering with another snowmobile’s engine, raising a hand in greeting. “Hola, buddy. How goes the trash run?”

Jack shut off the engine. “Got a full bin, plus some lost stuff. The customers need to be schooled on policing their trash.”

Wayne snorted. “Yeah, good luck with that. They figure that’s what we get paid for. And it can get nasty, too. One time I found an adult diaper out there. Used.”

Jack grimaced as he unlatched the garbage bin and hauled it over to the large green trash barrels. “Found some goggles and stuff, too. What do I do with them?”

“Take them up to the lodge’s check-in desk. They have a lost and found box there. Anything that isn’t claimed after a month gets auctioned off to the employees.” Wayne waggled his eyebrows. “I got a sweet iPod Classic that way.”

“Nice.” After reattaching the now-empty garbage bin to the snowmobile, Jack opened the lost and found bin and grabbing the damp items he’d stowed there. “What do you want me to do after I drop these off?”

“A work ethic. I like it.” Wayne shook his head. “No, it’s after five, man. You’re done for the day. Stop off at the canteen and grab something hot to eat, then head on home. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

The statement had been well-intended, but it still made Jack’s soul ache. Home. He had a spare room (a nice one, granted), but that wasn’t really a home, at least not for him. Pushing the lurking depression to the back of his mind, he nodded and headed over to the ski lodge.

As he ducked through the gate in the maintenance shed wall his nose was hit with a olfactory sledgehammer of humanity. Cougar Ridge was a popular skiing getaway in New Mexico, and even this late in the season there was still a steady stream of people getting off the lift and heading down the deep powder trails. The crisp air was at just the right temperature to hold a daunting array of scents—human sweat, musk, pheromones, perfumes and colognes, the long chain monomers of expensive ski gear, diesel from the lift, and the dimmer smells of surrounding evergreens, hard-packed dirt under melting snow, and various small furry creatures in the underbrush.

Keep it under control. Breathing through his mouth, Jack lowered his head and edged through the humans, focusing on the two-story redwood lodge up ahead.

“Excuse me?” A trio of young women, all of them dressed in upscale cold weather gear, stepped in front of him. “Do you work here?” the leader of the trio, a pretty brunette with big doe eyes, asked.

He glanced down at his worn parka and stained jeans. The other workers all wore Cougar Ridge jackets, but there hadn’t been one big enough to fit him in the lodge’s locker area. Yeah, not like any of these folks are wearing decade-old gear. “Um, yes. Can I help you?”

Her smile’s wattage kicked up a notch. “We were just wondering if there’s anything to do around here at night? Like, is there a place to go dancing?”

Jack tried to remember if he’d seen anything when he first hit down. “I can’t think of anything, ma’am. But it’s my first day here and I don’t know the area that well.”

She giggled. “Ma’am—that’s so sweet. My name’s Andrea, and this is Jazmine and Rachelle,” she nodded at her friends. “What’s your name?”

“Um, Jack.”

“Well, Um-Jack, it’s nice to meet you.” She extended a hand coyly, and he juggled the retrieved items in order to shake it. “Maybe you’d like to get to know the area with us? My rental fits four. We can pick you up after you get off work.”

Belatedly, Jack realized the lithe human female was hitting on him. Judging from the pheromones wafting off all three of them, her wingmen were just as enthusiastic about the idea. Man, you’re getting old. In the old days he would have been more than happy to go out dancing with them and spend the rest of the night rocking their worlds if they were up for it.

Now that he’d met Kate, however, the idea held absolutely no appeal. “I’m sorry, ladies, but I’m seeing someone and she’s absolutely vicious,” he said. Well, it wasn’t completely untrue. He had seen Kate a handful of times, and was confident she could take on three human women and slash them to ribbons. “Thank you for the offer, though. It’s much appreciated.”

He added a wink and Andrea giggled again. “Well, if you change your mind, we’ll be here until Monday,” she said, winking back before the three of them sauntered towards the slopes, healthy young things on the prowl for some entertainment. Good hunting, ladies. More amused than anything, Jack continued towards the lodge.

Inside, he headed to the checkin desk where a pretty cougar female was doing something behind the high counter. “For the lost and found,” he said, placing the retrieved items on the desk.

“Thanks,” the female said, then blinked. “Oh, wait. You’re the new guy, right?”

“Yeah. Jack Hawthorne.”

The female smiled. “Patty Elgin. Kate said she wanted to talk to you if you stopped by. She’s checking inventory in the bar.” She pointed down a hallway towards a redwood-bordered double door with a carved sign over it that said THE PANTHER’S PROWL.

“Thanks.” Jack headed to the bar, wondering if he was in some kind of trouble. Kate had seemed friendly enough at breakfast, but she was also very upfront about what she expected from the males she shared a home with. Shit, did I leave something in the sink this morning?

The moment he stepped through the doors he picked up a cheerful array of beer, wine, and liquor scents that reminded him of various shore leaves over the years. Over them, however, was Kate’s warm rosemary and sandalwood scent, along with the odor of a human male who had been drinking.

He immediately spotted her standing next to the long bar, arms crossed over her chest as she glared up at a beefy male in an expensive sweater and slacks who was looming over her. “I just want to get to know you, honey,” the human said, giving her a sloppy smile.

Jack’s hackles rose and he had to smother a growl. Get the fuck away from my mate.

“And I already told you, I’m working,” Kate said in a clipped tone. “So if you’ll excuse me—”

The man’s arm shot out, blocking off her escape route. “Come on, honey, don’t be like that,” he wheedled. “We could have a lot of fun in my room.”

Her expression changed, turning icy. “Do you like that arm?”

The man blinked. “What?”

She nodded at the thick limb in her way. “Do you like that arm?”

“Uh, yeah. Why?”

“If you want to keep it attached to your shoulder, get it off my bar now.”

The human’s heartbeat and respiration sped up, and a complicated mix of anger, shame, and arousal bubbled up through the beer scent. Clearly the man was one of those assholes who got off on intimidating women.

“Ooh, you some kind of black belt?” he sneered. “You think you can take me?”

Before Kate could reply, Jack stepped up and grabbed the man’s wrist, yanking it off the bar. The man stumbled in surprise and Jack used the momentum to slam him face first into the polished mahogany, neatly pinning him while yanking his hand up between his shoulder blades. “Hey, boss,” he said, keeping his tone pleasant. “Want me to show this gentleman to the door?”


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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m breaking away from To My Muse to tease you with the third installment in my Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl. Kate Chandler is a cougar shifter with an embarrassing handicap — a childhood accident destroyed her sense of smell. When Sheriff Lynch deposits a tall, hunky vagrant searching for her father at her door, she has no idea that the new arrival is a wolf shifter…and her mate.

But Jack Hawthorne knows. An Alpha without a pack and a SEAL without a team, he’s hoping that his former commanding officer can give him a job and some direction on what to do next. Learning  that a sexy blonde cougar shifter who can’t smell is his heart’s mate just makes things more complicated. But Jack is determined to win Kate  — if he can convince her to give him a chance, that is.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Kate Chandler heard the rumble of a truck crunching through the snow out front and groaned. Dammit, Dad, you weren’t supposed to be back for another hour or so. How am I supposed to get this tax paperwork done if you keep interrupting me?

Leaning back from the desk, she twitched her office window curtain to one side, expecting to see her father pulling up to their shared home outside the family business of the Cougar Ridge Ski Resort. Instead of a dark green SUV, one of the Esposito County Sheriff’s Department trucks had rolled into the driveway.

Oh, great. The ski resort was one of the tourist attractions of the county, bringing in avid skiers from Albuquerque and the surrounding sections of New Mexico. It also generated its share of drunken visitors doing stupid human tricks. By now she was used to one of the police trucks pulling up with a guest who’d gotten caught trying to steal a street sign or something equally moronic.

But she really didn’t need the hassle now. Cursing under her breath, she got up and headed to the front door just as a rapping knock sounded. She pulled it open, smirking at the tall, handsome coyote shifter in a uniform jacket standing there. “Hey, sheriff. What did one of our idiot guests do this time?”

Sheriff Caleb Lynch shook his head. “It’s not a guest this time, Kate. Is your dad home?”

“He’s running some guests to the airport, then he was going to stop off at the store.” She checked her watch. “Should be back in an hour or so. Can I help you?”

The sheriff frowned. “Maybe. Could you come out to the truck?”

“Sure.” Curiosity now mingling with annoyance, she slipped on her boots and a jacket and followed Lynch back to his truck. In the back seat was a large, hunched shape. “I picked up this gentleman from one of the culverts out on Muenzler Road,” the sheriff said, nodding at his passenger. “He said he was trying to reach your dad. Do you know him?”

Kate peered through the truck window. This close, she saw that the shape was a man in a dirty blue parka. Heavy brows and a strong nose that had been broken at some point stood out over a thick, unkempt beard that bristled from the parka’s hood like a miniature tumbleweed. The man stared at the floorboards of the truck so she had no idea what his eyes looked like.

No, not a man–a male. She could sense his aura just as she could sense Lynch’s. Whoever this male was, he was also a shifter. Her handicap meant that she couldn’t tell which animal form prowled inside that human body, but a hunch told her he wasn’t a cougar shifter like herself and her father.

A headache began to build behind her eyes. “Let me guess. Ex-military?”

Lynch nodded. “Said he was in the Navy with your dad. Do you know him?”

“Nope. But he wouldn’t be the first one to show up here. Can I talk to him?”

“If you like.” The sheriff opened the door, eyes narrowing at his passenger. “Come on out.”

Kate stepped back instinctively as the man unfolded from the back seat and got to his feet. Jesus, he’s big. The shifter easily topped 6’4” and she suspected his shoulders were proportionately broad when they weren’t hunched. Jeans that were as stained as the parka had been neatly cuffed over worn military boots. He was still staring at the ground, but seemed more comfortable now. Well, yeah. Getting out of that cramped seat would do that.

She edged forward, bending down a little to try and catch his gaze. “I’m Kate Chandler. What’s your name, sailor?”

His head came up at that and she saw his arm twitch as if he was about to salute. She found herself looking into a pair of eyes the color of warm Caribbean water. Oooh, pretty.

“Jack Hawthorne, ma’am,” he said softly, blinking. “Are … are you with Commander Chandler’s family?”

“I’m his daughter. The sheriff said you were trying to reach him?”

“Yes, ma’am. I served under him at Coronado.” His gaze flickered to Lynch, clearly not wanting to discuss the all-shifter SEAL teams commissioned by the US Navy in front of a civilian, even one with a badge. “The commander said that if we ever needed him on the beach, he’d help us.”

Kate swallowed a groan. Her father was a tough old bastard with the stereotypical solid gold heart. In the past, his promise to be there for his men had covered anything from a loan to helping someone establish a new identity. “Are you AWOL?” she asked bluntly.

Hawthorne flinched, anger flickering across what she could see of his features. “No, ma’am. I was honorably discharged six months ago. I … there was a problem with my pack.”

Pack. That gave her a hint. “Canine?”

His anger was replaced by puzzlement. “Can’t you tell?”

Damn. She hated having to explain her handicap. “No. I can’t smell your animal. Or anything, to be honest.”

He grimaced. “Jesus. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, so am I. So, canine?”

“Wolf. From the Rugged Pines pack in North Carolina.” He chewed his lower lip, giving Lynch another of those suspicious looks. “Look, I’m not a criminal. I didn’t know it was illegal to stay in the culverts. I’d been walking since dawn and I just needed a quiet place to rest.”

“In a big metal pipe under a road. Right.” She looked him up and down. “Why do you want to talk to my dad? You need a job?”

Those broad shoulders had straightened while they talked, but now they sagged again. “Wouldn’t turn it down if one’s going.”

The bulk of the jobs at Cougar Ridge tended to be seasonal, filled with locals who knew how to run the lifts and do the rest of the work that a ski resort required. It was already February, nearing the end of the season, but there was one last big event coming up and they always needed extra hands for that. She eyed him again. If he could ski and had a halfway decent face under that facial fur, the female guests would fall over themselves to take lessons from him. “Well, like I said, Dad won’t be back for an hour or so. Should be enough time for you to take a shower and get cleaned up. I’ll see if I can rustle up some clothes for you.” She turned to Lynch. “Thanks for bringing him by, sheriff. I’ll take it from here.”

Lynch frowned. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Kate. I’m fine with Mr. Hawthorne cooling his heels at the sheriff’s office until your dad gets home.”

“There’s no point. If Mr. Hawthorne served under Dad as he claims, Dad will find something for him to do. And if he didn’t,” she bared a humorless grin at the big wolf shifter, “I’ve got about fifteen big ol’ boys within shouting distance who will be more than happy to toss him off the resort if I can’t manage it myself.”

She expected Hawthorne to bristle at that, but his shoulders hunched again under the dirty blue parka. “I served under your father,” he muttered. “I’m not a liar.”

“Fine. You might as well get cleaned up, then. I may not be able to smell you, but I can assure you Dad will.” With a parting nod to a still-wary Lynch, she waved at the wolf shifter to follow her, mentally reviewing what clothing she could scrounge up from the extras bin they kept for just this purpose. Don’t know if any of the shirts will fit, but we’ve got to have some XL sweats somewhere…

****

One long, hot shower later, Jack leaned closer to the bathroom mirror, wiping the condensation from it. A stranger peered back, eyes weary and hard over a thick growth of facial hair. Helluva beard, guy. You look like the Abominable Snowman.

Not that he’d had a reason to do much personal grooming since his discharge. He’d hacked off his hair with his knife when it got too long, but the beard kept his face warm when he slept outside. It was easier to find a safe place to crash in the woods or other outdoor locations, easier to find food and clean water in the towns. He shifted back and forth between the two as he slowly headed westward, remembering the promise Commander Chandler had made and praying that his former commanding officer would made good on it.

And if Chandler couldn’t…

Jack grimaced and picked up the trimmer the female had left for him in the bathroom, a disposable razor and a can of shaving cream placed next to it. Then I’ll leave. Simple as that.

The empty spot in his soul ached at the thought. He couldn’t help prodding it, the emotional equivalent of tonguing a gap where a tooth had been extracted. It was the place where he should have felt the connection to his pack, the solid link that an Alpha always maintained with the shifters he led.

But he wasn’t an Alpha anymore. Nobody’s fault but your own. He could still hear his brother Ed’s words as they stood at the edge of their father’s grave the day he’d returned, three months too late to say goodbye. You wanted to go off and be a hero, Jack. I stayed behind and took care of the pack, like Pa wanted. You can’t blame him for making me Alpha.

He switched on the trimmer and started paring down the beard, bits of dark brown and grey hair pattering into the sink with each buzzing pass. Slowly his face began to emerge, the family resemblance to brother and father too strong to ignore.

He could have challenged Ed for leadership, and he would have won. Both of them knew that. But Ed had been a good Alpha after their father’s death. Before that, he had been Pa’s trusted beta while Jack had been off traveling around the world with the SEALs. The clincher was that Ed had already found his mate and had a pup on the way. Even if the pack wouldn’t reject him for it, there was no way in hell Jack would fight his own brother and risk orphaning his oncoming niece/nephew.

So that was that. At least Ed hadn’t insulted him by offering him a position as a beta, which was something. He’d left North Carolina and headed west, searching for something that would convince him that life still had some meaning. His retirement pay was deposited into his account regularly, more than enough to buy a car or RV and travel in comfort. But he didn’t want comfort. Traveling by foot to New Mexico gave him a chance to atone for not being there when Pa died.

He’d finally made his way to Esposito County, Chandler’s last listed address, only to be picked up for vagrancy by a damn sheriff. He’d been lucky that Lynch was willing to listen to him, even agreeing to take him to the commander’s house instead of throwing him in a cell for a couple of days. But the thought of being brought in front of Chandler as a prisoner had been damn humiliating. He hadn’t even been able to look up, guilt and shame gnawing at his belly, when Lynch ordered him out of the truck.

And then the scent hit him. Something irresistible, a deliciously warm, spiced scent that made his mouth water and his cock stir at the same time. When he looked up into a pair of celadon green eyes, it had taken every ounce of his will to stay in place and throw himself bodily at the female who smelled like home. Like his mate.

He put down the trimmer and picked up the shaving cream, decanting a foamy blob into one hand and smoothing it over his newly trimmed stubble. Christ. She’s a cougar shifter. And Commander Chandler’s daughter. And she can’t smell me. Somewhere, he could hear Fate laughing at him.


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Nicola’s Sunday Shoutout: Jennifer Denys

Today’s Sunday Shoutout goes to Jennifer Denys, whose sizzling new paranormal wolf shifter romance To Claim a Mate is now available from Luminosity Publishing and other purveyors of fine erotic romance. And now, here’s Jennifer!


Cole Linley is a gay wolf-shifter. In order to appease the Alpha within, he has taken up the BDSM lifestyle and become very experienced. This placates his wolf to a certain extent, but his dearest wish is to find a mate—male, of course. Except, the question is, how to find one in a city surrounded by humans where other wolf-shifters are rare.

Then, one night, he enters Balls & Chains, a BDSM club he frequents, and immediately senses another of his kind. And not only that, it is the scent of a potential mate, Jared Gray. There is only one problem—Jared is collared by another Master.

Jared’s relationship shows all the signs of an abusive relationship. Can Cole get him away from the other Dom and show Jared the delights of BDSM when done properly and what it means to be a beta wolf to Cole’s Alpha?

Reader Advisory: The submissive in this Gay Paranormal Romance doesn’t realize he is in an abusive relationship until he meets his true Master.


Story Excerpt

Moving on, Cole was drawn into a room which had a cross in each corner of the room with plenty of space to wield the equipment. The walls were covered with floggers of varying types, although nothing stopped a Dominant using an implement from another section.

Cole halted. He’s here.

The scent was at its strongest, practically dragging him toward a slender man in his late twenties, with brown hair the color of hazelnuts. The sub was in the process of being tied face up against a cross on the far side. His chest was bare and sleek, and he wore skin-tight jeans.

The Dom wanted to rip the man’s clothes off and devour him on the spot. So intent was he on reaching his prey, he nearly missed the Master who had finished tying the submissive and came around to inspect the restraints, standing directly between Cole and the object of his hunt.

Stopping in his tracks, Cole’s hackles began to rise. A possessive instinct rose in him to fight off his rival. Except there were rules in BDSM and it didn’t include tearing out the throat of another Master.

Andy caught up with him and saw him staring. “Who have you found? Oh, this is Master Dirk. Jared is the sub he is playing with.”

Cole took a moment to calm his inner wolf, unclenching his fists before he triggered his claws. His voice was raspy as he asked, “Are they new? I don’t recall seeing either of them here before.” Actually, he couldn’t care less about this new Master. He only had eyes for Jared.

He didn’t hear Andy’s answer, because, at that moment, he caught the gaze of the bound man. Tangible electricity crossed the room and hit Cole like a silver bullet, slamming into his heart, nearly causing him to change into his wolf in front of everyone. It took everything he knew about Dominance to keep hold of his human side and push down his animal half.

Meanwhile, the submissive’s eyes opened wide in shock, and he bit his lip. Cole’s keen wolf eyesight could detect Jared’s fierce trembling, as he tightly gripped the ropes that held him. Cole willed him to hold on and not transform in front of everyone as the two shared a look of instant attraction, desperate need, and the desire to have sex.

And yet it was more than that. So much more—an inner knowledge, assurance one has finally found one’s other half, and didn’t even know one was looking.

Taking a deep breath, Cole narrowed his eyes as he gazed on Jared, drinking in the beautiful sight before him.

He gave a slight smile of acknowledgment.

Oh yes, this is my mate. And woe betide anyone who comes between us.


Where To Buy

Luminosity | Amazon UK | Amazon US


About the Author

Jennifer is a bestselling author in various genre (BDSM, contemporary, sci-fi, paranormal, with historical and fantasy in her works in progress) with several different publishers.

An Englishwoman through and through, she lives in a beautiful historical city and is game to try most things once. She’s had a tattoo done on her calf, flew down zip wires 100 feet up in the trees, and was photographed nude by a professional photographer. All of which have taken place since she turned 50!

Many of her experiences end up in her books… but you will have to read them to find out what!

Do contact Jennifer – she loves to hear from her fans. She posts to her blog three times a week and is on Facebook daily.

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